The conundrum of determining America’s immigration policy


The Trump administration proposed new immigration policies last week which could have serious implications for the unification of Caribbean Americans and their family members still living in the Caribbean. But there seems to surprising disinterest in the new proposals, which could become a reality under the current administration.

Complacent and selfish

Some immigrants already in America are complacent and pleased as Cheshire cats with their access to the American Dream and could care less about those trying to gain legal immigrant status. What’s really sad is some of these incumbent immigrants actually oppose the admission of new immigrants.

On the other hand, the United States isn’t a country of unlimited accommodation. This land of the brave, this land of unimaginable opportunities, cannot expand to fit all the wretched of the world, irrespective of the message inscribed on the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

Immigration equilibrium

The economic law of supply and demand make it certain an equilibrium point will be reached where the country will be unable to supply the demands of unlimited flows of immigrants. Hence, immigration controls or laws are imperative.  And, periodically reform of these laws are needed to ensure immigrants are treated fairly and equitably while protecting America’s primary interests.

But America’s immigration policy is compounded into a major conundrum because of the variety of immigrants trying to enter the country.

Variety of immigrants

There are undocumented immigrants, those who enter the country and stay without the appropriate immigration documents; others seeking asylum from either political, criminal, or socioeconomic peril in their countries; the so-called chain immigrants seeking to join family members who are already legal immigrants; and skilled immigrants seeking to take advantage of America’s professional and  technological needs to effectively and profitably utilize these skills.

Each of these varieties of immigrants attracts positive and negative arguments, which appear valid dependent on one’s political ideology. Democrats prefer a more humane, open or liberal immigration policy that gives access to the reunification of families, once new immigrants have no criminal record. Republicans consistently seek a more restrictive nationalistic policy applied to every category of Immigrants, but some more than others.

Pros and Cons of immigration arguments

The pros and cons arguments are strong, and often difficult to change. Some of the more fundamental arguments are:

Undocumented immigrants: The pros: Allow immigrants already in the country to stay with the condition. The cons: Deport them and allow them to return on set criteria.

Asylum immigrants: Pros: Accept refugees on an organized basis on compassionate grounds. Cons: Restrict asylum seekers to stringent legal interrogation.

Chain immigrants: Pros:  Allow immediate family members to enter on a systematic basis. Cons: Accept only skilled family members that can support themselves financially

Skilled immigrants: The line between the pros and cons are blurred here. While one policy seeks to admit limited skilled immigrants with specific work-related visas, the other seeks a more liberal policy. The recent immigration proposal seeks to focus on skilled immigrants, similar to neighboring Canada.

Collaborative support needed

Immigration reform will never be realized with one party, or interest group, imposing its peculiar arguments on those with opposing arguments. It just will not work. To achieve a nationally acceptable immigration policy there must be collaborative support to determine the more realistic policy that governs the combined variety of immigrants seeking residence in America.

This collaborative approach almost succeeded during the George W. Bush administration with the efforts of the late Senators John McCain, Republican, and Edward Kennedy, Democrat.  In 2013 the Gang of Eight US senators, four Democrats and four Republicans, collaborated in drafting the Immigration Modernization Act. But these attempts failed in the US House. It is therefore imperative there be a similar collaborative effort in both chambers of Congress.

It is highly unlikely any American president will succeed in having what he/she determines to be his/her preferred immigration policy become law by simply expounding on that policy. The policy must be allowed to be deliberated within the collaborative efforts of those in the US Congress responsible for formulating realistic immigration policy reform.

Many contentious issues that seem to evade consensus and create conundrums in America can be settled if only the decision makers realize there are solutions in genuine collaboration.  America doesn’t abide by Democratic Party laws or Republican Party laws but by UNITED States’ laws. America will only have a reformed immigration policy when the relevant parties act collaboratively to negotiate and finalize this policy.


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